New interactive map of threats to the Green Belt

London Green Belt Council with CPRE London and seven other CPRE branches have made an interactive map showing threats to the London (Metropolitan) Green Belt. It is a worrying picture.

Screenshot of Threats Map

Campaigners have today published a map of threats to London’s Green Belt. It shows nearly 200 sites under threat from development and proposals for building over 110,000 houses on protected green belt land.

Catherine Maguire, Green Belt Campaigner, said: “London’s Green Belt has saved our countryside. It is hugely valuable – more so now than ever, with more and more pressure being piled on the South East. If it had not been for the London Green Belt preventing urban sprawl, London could have followed the example of Los Angeles, and now spread from Brighton to Cambridge, with millions of people car-dependent and horrendous traffic and pollution problems.

“The planning system has been weakened to the extent that even the ‘strongest protection’ afforded to green belt land is being ignored on a widespread basis. Even though the government has clarified that housing needs cannot ‘trump’ green belt, it has also piled pressure on councils to release land for new homes and does not take action when protected green belt land is released. This is flagrantly hypocritical.”

You can view the map here. To find out more about the Green Belt, its history and legal status, have a look at the London Green Belt Council website.

May 24th 2016


Great news – we have been granted leave to appeal on Farthingloe

CPRE Kent has been granted leave to appeal against the judicial review judgement in our fight to save the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty at Farthingloe near Dover.

Farthingloe view from Western Heights, photo CPRE

Farthingloe view from Western Heights, photo CPRE

An appeal court judge has said that our arguments over mitigation to the AONB “raise an arguable point which has real prospects of success.”

CPRE Kent Chairman Christine Drury said: “This is great news – we have been determined to save this beautiful area of countryside. The harm to the AONB cannot be justified and we are heartened that the judge has agreed to our appeal on this important point.”

We argued that the judicial review judge had been wrong to conclude that the application to build 521 houses and a 90 home retirement village at Farthingloe complied with planning law (paragraph 116 of the National Planning Policy framework (NPPF)).

Dover District Council planning officers had criticised the density and layout of the scheme and recognised that it would have significant adverse impact on the AONB. Councillors ignored this advice and agreed to the proposals without any mitigation measures.

CPRE Kent, Natural England, the Kent Downs AONB Unit and the National Trust all opposed the decision and it is astounding that the case was not called in by the Secretary of State despite the strongest recommendations from his advisors.

Christine Drury added: “We will never give up on our countryside. I would like to thank everyone who continues to support us in this important battle. It is absolutely central to our cause that we fight to protect beautiful, protected, unspoilt areas of countryside for future generations.”

We will now prepare for the Court of Appeal hearing which could be some months away.

Read more on the background to this hereherehere and here.

May 10th 2016.


Planning reforms 2016 – write to your MP

Urgent call for your support. Please write to your MP now about changes to national planning policy which the Government is expected to publish in June.

Lenham sunset, photo by Simon Oliver

Lenham sunset, photo by Simon Oliver

Getting the right homes in the right places
We are calling for changes that will ensure the right housing is built in the right places, and prevent unnecessary loss of countryside:

  • Developers should be tasked with building the developments on permissions they already have, before trying to grab more greenfield land.
  • Councils should be empowered to prioritise the use of brownfield sites and restrict competing greenfield development, especially when this would further protect the Green Belt.
  • The Government should abandon proposals to relax Green Belt policy and instead make clearer that unnecessary or major losses of Green Belt should be avoided.
  • Councils should be able to set housebuilding targets that are based on a realistic assessment of what is likely to actually be delivered.

We have prepared a letter which you can send to your local MP. If you have the time to personalise it, it will be even more effective. Go straight to the letter and take action by clicking here.

For a detailed look at Planning reforms 2016: What’s the problem? click here.

Lavender at Castle Farm, Lullingstone, photo by Glen Humble

Lavender at Castle Farm, Lullingstone, photo by Glen Humble

April 27th 2016.

Kent Voice spring edition out now

The latest edition of Kent Voice is landing on doorsteps this week. it is a particularly colourful edition with lots of photos of spring flowers, our lovely countryside and farmland and bees! One of our articles is on the saga of bees and neonics. Plus we have an interesting perspective on the housing crisis – we talk to two builders about the challenges they face.

Kent Voice cover, spring 2016

Do have a look to find out the latest branch news and campaign updates. You can read your copy here.

March 29th 2016.


Evidence on Operation Stack submitted to Transport Select Committee

CPRE Kent has submitted a written response to the Government’s Transport Committee inquiry on Operation Stack.

This follows last October’s one off evidence session into the impact of Operation Stack following the chaos of last summer.

In November 2015 the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced funding up to £250 million for a permanent lorry park to increase resilience in Kent, by taking pressure off the roads in the event of Operation Stack. The Government is consulting on a preferred site at Stanford and other alternatives. In the short term, the former Manston Airport site will continue to be used as a lorry park.

 

Operation stack 035 Operation stack 036

CPRE Kent holds to the principle that a single permanent lorry park which is used only in the event
that Operation Stack needs to be implemented is the wrong solution to the wrong problem. Kent is
an inevitable and unavoidable bottleneck in the flow of traffic between the UK and the rest of
mainland Europe, and the high and rising volume of road-borne freight transiting the county is the
most important issue that needs to be addressed.
The disruptions to Kent and the UK’s economy, as well as the unacceptable impacts on local lives and livelihoods, that resulted from the lengthy implementation of Operation Stack in 2015 served to
demonstrate the fragility of the logistics industry’s reliance on this concentrated route. We contend
that the time has come for a solution which would offer real resilience to the nation’s trade and
transport links and offer flexible alternatives to the logistics industry, both now and in the future.
We propose a 21st Century solution to the problems of over-concentration of road-based HGVs in
Kent.

To read our full submission click here.

For details of the inquiry click here.

February 29th 2016

Lower Thames Crossing

CPRE Kent, working together with CPRE Essex, has produced a policy statement on the Lower Thames Crossing. We are calling for a wider, more resilient solution, including investment in ports north of the Thames to disperse the cross channel movement of freight.

QE2 Bridge by Diamond Geezer, flickr

QE2 Bridge by Diamond Geezer, flickr

We believe better operation of the existing Thames crossings within a sustainable transport strategy would:

  • Be free from congestion
  • Have acceptably low air pollution levels
  • Be part of a dispersed strategic transport network and channel crossing system, resilient to economic, security and weather issues
  • Reduce the number of loaded trucks parking up overnight and at weekends on local roads
  • Offer a partnership with fleet managers for an end to unsocial working conditions for drivers
  • Promote more diversion to rail and unaccompanied trailer operations
  • Herald the beginning of a lower impact future for transport through Kent and Essex

To read the full policy statement click here.

December 15th 2015

Important Judicial Review

A High Court judge will today and tomorrow consider whether the decision to grant planning permission for more than 600 homes on an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty near Dover was lawful.

We have taken the plans for Farthingloe and the Western Heights to Judicial Review in a last ditch attempt to protect this beautiful and iconic landscape.

South across the valley to site B from Little Farthingloe Farm 2

View across the valley at Farthingloe, photo Brian Lloyd

Dover District Council has granted planning permission for 521 houses and a 90 dwelling retirement village in the AONB at Farthingloe and a large hotel on the historically important Western Heights.

We have discovered that the Government’s planning experts had recommended in 2013 that the then Secretary of State for Planning Nick Boles “call in” the application because of the question mark over justification of building in the AONB.

We finally have a copy of the un-redacted letter (dated 19 June 2013) recommending this, obtained after a two year process of Freedom of Information requests.

The two statutory advice bodies, Natural England and Kent Downs AONB Unit, as well as CPRE Kent and the National Trust all requested that the outline planning permission be called in for a public inquiry. The planned development would have a major detrimental impact on the AONB, was contrary to national planning policy, was not sustainable and was not part of Dover’s agreed Development Plan.

In the advice to the Secretary of State, the planning casework officer said: “If you decide not to call-in this application, this could place the protected landscape of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty at risk, leading to potential negative press coverage and reputation risk for the Government.”

There was shock and disappointment when the decision was made NOT to call in the application in July 2013. Planning permission was granted in April 2015.

“A Judicial Review is not a decision to be taken lightly,” said CPRE Kent Chairman Christine Drury. “But as this planning decision was so clearly wrong and so important it is now up to us to fight for the AONB through the Planning Court.  In planning law, AONB has the highest status of protection in relation to landscape and scenic beauty and we do not believe there are the exceptional circumstances to justify the destruction of this fantastic landscape.”

A High Court judge will consider the case for judicial review and hear the arguments on Tuesday and Wednesday this week (December 15th and 16th).  We expect the judgement early in the New Year.

December 9th 2015

Reaction to the Autumn Statement

CPRE has reacted to the Autumn Statement and Spending Review, where the Chancellor made a number of announcements on issues affecting the countryside.

Housing:

We have long been asking the Government to stop fixating on the planning system. Figures show that planning permissions are not the issue; the issue is that developers are not building the homes for which they have permission. Landbanking is a major problem and we are saying to developers to get on and build to deliver the housing we need.

HousingEstate_2167w

Paul Miner, planning campaign manager at the CPRE comments:

“Although we welcome a focus on brownfield development, we’re wary of moves to develop brownfield sites in the Green Belt – many Green Belt sites classed as ‘brownfield’ contain a lot of valuable open land, often historic parkland, which should be kept undeveloped. Continue reading

Kent is frack free

Great news that Kent is now frack free as there are no petroleum exploration development licenses (which would allow test drilling) in the county.

Coastal Oil & Gas relinquished all their PEDL areas and no other company has applied to drill here thanks to determined opposition in the county.

Fracking well in North Dakota

Fracking well in North Dakota

CPRE Kent expert hydrology engineer Graham Warren said: “This is a relief for Kent as we there would have been a serious risk that fracking would damage the aquifer which supplies 70% of the county’s water. The gas and oil deposits are no more than 600-700m below the aquifer, the Chalk of the North Downs. There was also a risk that geological faults in the area would have been re-activated allowing gases and fracking fluids to leak into the chalk and so contaminate the water supply.”

Mole Valley, photo by David Fisher, flickr

Mole Valley, photo by David Fisher, flickr

However, our neighbours in Surrey are under threat with licence areas having been granted in some of the most beautiful countryside in the Mole Valley. Mr Warren is advising the Surrey campaigners, and said of the proposed horizontal drilling corridor that http://buyinglevitrahere.com will run beneath the aquifer: Continue reading

Gift membership – perfect for Christmas

The gift of the countryside – you could not put a price on it; but you can help us protect it by buying a gift membership of CPRE Kent for friends or family this Christmas.

Forest snow scene by Chris Barnes

Forest snow scene by Chris Barnes

Not only will you and your loved one be supporting our campaigns to protect the beauty and tranquillity of the wonderful Kent countryside, but gift membership offers a lot more besides:

Gift membership 001 (003)

  • Kent Voice magazine – twice a year
  • Countryside Voice magazine – three times a year
  • Two for one or half price entry to homes and gardens across Kent and England for the whole household
  • Social programme of outings
  • Expert planning support
  • 10% discount at Cotswald Outdoors for the whole household
  • A special bonus for gift membership – wildflower seeds, a cute welly boot keyring and a wheelie bin pencil sharpener sent with the welcome pack
  • CPRE pin badge

Continue reading

Autumn Winter 2015 Kent Voice

The Autumn Winter edition of Kent Voice should be arriving on your doorstep any time now.

cover photo jpeg for website

It contains lots of interesting articles on subjects ranging from the Magna Carta to grazing management of some of our most beautiful countryside as well as all the latest campaigns news. Find out about good news fro the Romney Marsh, good news on Waterside Park, and our latest efforts to save the AONB at Farthingloe.

There is also information on the AGM coming up on 20th November and events and outings coming up over the next year.

To read click on the photo.

MPs asked to help protect the countryside

All the MPs in Kent have been sent a detailed map of their constituencies highlighting the proportion of countryside and the amount of it that is unprotected in a bid to raise awareness and build support for our campaigns to protect the countryside.

Elham Valley, photo by Avidly Abide

Elham Valley, photo by Avidly Abide

The maps detail how much land is in the Green Belt, protected by Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) status, covered by a local plan (in Kent only Shepway and Gravesham have local plans in place) and how much is unprotected.

As a result MPs should have a better understanding of the countryside in their area and how well it is protected. CPRE Kent hopes that the new map will encourage our local MPs to help protect the countryside from inappropriate development, and ensure that much-needed new homes are built in the right places.

Kent countryside by Grant Cherrington

Kent countryside by Grant Cherrington

Continue reading


#ourgreenbelt

The Green Belt: it’s where we relax, where we watch wildlife, where we cycle and walk and picnic. The wonderful views and the tranquillity of open countryside is so important to our health and well-being. That is why CPRE has launched a campaign to protect it in its sixtieth anniversary year.

The Green Belt is massively under attack from developers seeking to encroach on to the green buffer created sixty years ago to provide distinction between towns and villages – a vital green lung around the built up areas.

 

Lullingstone park, photo by Susan Pittman

Lullingstone park, photo by Susan Pittman

In Kent we have a large amount of Green Belt – 93% of Sevenoaks, 77% of Gravesham, 71% of Tonbridge and Malling, 56% of Dartford and 22% of Tunbridge Wells. If you love your Green Belt please get involved by sharing your photos, memories, creative works or just your support and thoughts via #ourgreenbelt.

Lavender at Castle Farm, Lullingstone, photo by Glen Humble

Lavender at Castle Farm, Lullingstone, photo by Glen Humble

We will use this to convince the Government that the Green Belt needs protection and must be preserved for our future and our children’s future.

For more information click here.

September 8th 2015.


Countryside Charter delivered to Downing Street

CPRE Kent Chairman Christine Drury was part of the delegation handing in CPRE’s 80,000 strong petition to save the countryside into Downing Street last week (17th June).

CPRE Kent Chairman Christine Drury at Number 10

CPRE Kent Chairman Christine Drury at Number 10

Over the last two years 80,890 people signed the Charter which has now been left with the Prime Minister. Support for the Charter came from all over the world as it is widely recognised that England’s countryside has a unique and special character that must be protected.

Christine Drury said: “Thank you to the many people in Kent who signed the Charter. Members and non-members alike supported these important demands to the Government: brownfield first, more listening to communities and more housing in the right places.”

 

Photo: CPRE, Stefano Cagnoni

Photo: CPRE, Stefano Cagnoni

Over the last two years 80,890 people signed the Charter which has now been left with the Prime Minister. Support for the Charter came from all over the world as it is widely recognised that England’s countryside has a unique and special character that must be protected.

Christine Drury said: “Thank you to the many people in Kent who signed the Charter. Members and non-members alike supported these important demands to the Government: brownfield first, more listening to communities and more housing in the right places.”

Continue reading


Legal challenge to damaging development at Farthingloe

CPRE Kent has challenged the legality of Dover District Council’s decision to allow hundreds of new homes to be built at Farthingloe, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

We have lodged a Judicial Review at the High Court into the decision to grant planning permission for 521 homes and a 90 apartment retirement village. We believe the development would cause significant, irreversible harm to a beautiful and historic landscape.

Dover Farthingloe from Mount Road Vic 030

Dover District Council granted final permission in April 2015 for a 130 bed hotel and conference centre, residential units and a museum/visitor attraction at Western Heights as well as the 521 homes, retirement village and a health facility at Farthingloe.  The council agreed to the scheme because of a claimed shortfall in housing provision in the district and the economic benefits that would result from a £5m contribution towards heritage improvements at the Western Heights.

Dover Western heights view over W. Docks Vic 002

Continue reading